Light and shadow as instruments of literary and visual metaphor in Liviu Rebreanu’s The Forest of the Hanged




light and shadow; metaphor; literature; cinematography; theatre;


Starting from their basic role as elements of literary, cinematographic and theatrical description, light and shadow develop a close relation in all these three arts. They exceed their primary purpose and become involved in the process of narrating the events and setting the mise-en-scène. Even more, they are also engaged in changing the atmosphere, visualizing the images, modifying the reader’s or viewer’s attention, increasing or diminishing the dramatic intensity, conferring dynamic effect, accumulating meaning and revealing symbolic, philosophical, psychological and metaphysical significance to literary, cinematographic and theatrical artworks. Transferred from literature to cinematography and theatre, light and shadow have to adjust their means of expression so that to correspond to the specificity of each art. Taking after the techniques in the art of drawing, naming the tree-dimension perspective and chiaroscuro, light and shadow bring new aesthetic values to theatre and cinematography. Regarded as instruments of creating literary and visual metaphors, light and shadow highly influence the perception of the images outlined by them. The study aims to take into discussion the manner in which light and shadow may be employed as instruments of creating literary as well as visual metaphors. At the same time, it analyses the transposition of a metaphor generated by light and shadow from literature to cinematography and theatre as in Liviu Rebreanu’s “The Forest of the Hanged”.        

Author Biography

Carmen Dominte, National University of Music, Bucharest

Carmen Dominte is lecturer of Professional English for Music in the Department of Musicology and Musical Education Studies at the National University of Music in Bucharest. She defended her PhD in Literary Theory in 2010 with the thesis The Absurd as an Existential Adventure between Modernism and Postmodernism. Her scientific interests belong to poetics and literary theory, cultural studies, theatre and film studies and musicology. Her scientific studies, such as The Search for Identity in Dystopian Literature, Outstripping and Foreshortening as Literary Possibilities of Contextualization, Auctorial Image and Representation as Forms of Identity in Renaissance Time, The Stage as the Chronotope of Memory, The Inter-textual Imaginary, The Invisible City as a Possible World, Golden Section as a Sacred Symbol, Travel Writings as Means of Intercultural Translation, The Inter-Semiotic Negotiation between the Literary and the Cinematographic Image, were published in scientific reviews. As a playwright she is a member of the artistic council of the Playwrights Theatre in Bucharest and a member of the Romanian Writers Union. Her plays were staged in different national theatres (Bye-Bye America, The Magic World, An Exercise of Equilibrium, Paparin’s World, Paganini Does Not Live Here Anymore, I Know This Is Not What You Want to Hear, The Billboard Moon). 


Blanchot, M. (2007). Spațiul literar/ Literary Space, trans. by Irina Mavrodin. București: Editura Minerva.

Brown, B. (2008). Motion Picture and Video Lighting. Oxford: Focal Press.

Buser, T. (2006). Experiencing Art Around Us. Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth.

Butler, A. (2005). Film Studies. Harpenden, Hertfordshire: Pocket Essentials.

Caragiale, I.L. (1981). Nuvele, povestiri, amintiri, varia/ Short Stories, Tales, Memoires, Varia. București: Editura Minerva.

Călinescu, G. (1985) Istoria literaturii române de la origini până în prezent/ The History of Romanian Literature from the Beginnings to Present, București: Minerva.

Gombrich, E H. (2000). Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Herrstrom, D. (2017). Light as Experience and Imagination from Paleolithic to Roman Times. London: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.

Krausse, A.C. (2005). The Story of Painting: From the Renaissance to the Present, Königswinter: Könemann.

Lăzărescu, G. (1983) Romanul de analiză pshihologică în literatura română interbelică/ The Novel of Psychological Analysis in the Interwar Romanian Literature, București: Minerva.

Poe, E.A. (1951). Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Washington Square Press.

Protopopescu, A. (1978). Romanul psihologic românesc/ The Romanian Psychological Novel, București: Editura Eminescu.

Rebreanu, L. (1989). Adam și Eva/ Adam and Eve. București: Editura Minerva.

Rebreanu, L. (1966). Pădurea spânzuraților/ The Forest of the Hanged. București: Editura pentru Literatură.

Ruskin, J. (2005). Modern Painters, volume 1. Whitefish: Kessinger Publishing.

Woolf, V. (1971). Jacob’s Room. London: Hogarth.

Online Resources

Figure 1 and Figure 2: univ&sa

Figure 3, Figure 4 and Figure 5: X&ved

Figure 6, Figure 7 and Figure 8: =rimg




How to Cite

Dominte, C. (2020). Light and shadow as instruments of literary and visual metaphor in Liviu Rebreanu’s The Forest of the Hanged. Swedish Journal of Romanian Studies, 3(1), 116–129.